Promoters of green growth in New Zealand have mapped out seven areas where this country has an international advantage but say there remain barriers to capitalising on them.
The Government's decision not sign up for fresh commitments under the Kyoto Protocol was also a setback to how the country was perceived, they say.
A major report out today reviews New Zealand's green growth opportunities and outlines how the Government and the private sector can best complement each other in helping New Zealand get ahead in the "green race".
The report's "Green Growth Opportunities for New Zealand" was done by Vivid Economics in London in conjunction with the University of Auckland Business School.
It finds New Zealand could benefit from global green investment patterns in two main ways: by exporting to nations investing in green goods and services and by importing new technology and ideas to create efficiencies at home.
The potential economic opportunities are significant - the International Energy Agency estimates that global investments in low carbon energy alone could reach more than US$3 trillion ($3.67 trillion) per year by 2050, if the world shifts to an ambitious green growth track.
Pure Advantage commissioned the report and says it is not driven by environmental idealism or fear of climate change, but had some active steps that were already in train.
The potential green growth export opportunities for New Zealand include sustainable agricultural products and services, geothermal energy, biotechnology, and forestry including second-generation biofuels. In the domestic economy, opportunities include improvements in building, transport, energy efficiency and electricity grid technology.
Pure Advantage is a not-for-profit group backed by high-profile business leaders which has been working on green growth for nearly two years.
Seven areas to make the shortlist are more efficient homes, capitalising on our geothermal resources and expertise, environmentally friendly and efficient farming, waste to energy schemes, making biofuel from wood, building smart grids and developing a biodiversity strategy to support tourism.
Pure Advantage chairman Rob Morrison said the seven advantages were selected because they were all significant, deliverable and could leverage existing investment, skills and knowledge.
"While there have been positive steps taken by the current and previous New Zealand Governments as well as many New Zealand companies, the green growth opportunities Pure Advantage are talking about have yet to be fully realised. If they had been realised, we would already be seeing significant economic and environmental gains - but as of yet we are not."
One example was home insulation where while progress was being made by the Government in insulating New Zealand houses, about round 750,000 of them remained poorly insulated and heated.
Pure Advantage has identified three key barriers that have inhibited private industry from embracing green initiatives: a lack of industry coordination or a need for previously unassociated industries to work together, an absence of cohesive long-term green growth policy from the central Government and the lack of detailed business case analysis to clearly define commercial incentives.
He said the decision on Kyoto was unfortunate.
"I think it is indicative of governments everywhere is that governments are trying to maximise what little growth there is globally and accept there is going to be greater climatic risk," said Morrison.
"It's clear that Kyoto is not the answer for the world's climatic problems and for a country that didn't promote itself as clean and green this wouldn't be an issue. New Zealand's issue is the symbolism - we're not doing enough to protect our brand."
Pure Advantage was the brainchild of Phillip Mills and trustees are Rob Morrison, Sir George Fistonich, Rob Fyfe, Chris Liddell, Phillip Mills, Jeremy Moon, Sir Stephen Tindall, Geoff Ross, Justine Smyth, Mark Solomon and Joan Withers. Founding trustees also include the late Lloyd Morrison and Sir Paul Callaghan.